Version 1.

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The Evolution of Silence version 1—www.evolution-of-silence.net

The Hatchfund fundraiser ended in October, and thanks to all my wonderful supporters, I raised $3,827 towards my project!

Part of the funding has already covered the costs of working with web developer, Danniel Gaidula. We have completely revamped and refined the web-based archive. This is a significant programming achievement! ‘The Evolution of Silence’ requires that over 900 individual images be processed at once (to form the aerial tiling of the landscape), and as other image, video, and audio layers are revealed it can become very intense for any system. We developed a unique approach to the design and coding, and I am happy to say that is now live and working!

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I invite you to explore:

www.evolution-of-silence.net

*Refresh your browser cache if you have visited before.
*Works in Chrome (fastest), Safari, Firefox and IE 10. Requires a modern browser.

BETA Version 1.1.

The web-based archive of ‘The Evolution of Silence’ will officially launch on September 1, 2013. I have made progress this week and am now sharing the BETA site more widely for feedback. Over the next two months, I will be incorporating more of my research material, writing, and art (solar prints, animations, and coaxial cable drawings, etc.), testing programming and design ideas on my local file, and updating the BETA versions regularly for your feedback.

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Be sure to empty your browser cache each time to view the changes. Currently the site works well in Safari and Firefox.

Instructions for emptying your cache in
Safari:
File > Develop > Empty Caches

Firefox:
Tools > Clear Recent History > Cache

Plans for Part One.

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I finished fixing the coordinates last week, and now the images tile correctly to form a view of every single detonation in Yucca Flat. It is intentional that it is still fragmented, in order to make visually clear that in those areas of the valley no nuclear detonation occurred. These gaps in information are views through the accumulated image, and lead to more and more complex layering of image, text, video. My goals with these layers are to explore the valley over time, convey dynamics and scale, present the ruins of testing, and share documentation of the impact on people’s lives and the environment. At the moment, photographs from the Desert Wildlife Range and the surrounding areas of the Nevada Test Site are visible.
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My plans for Part One (the web-based part):
1. Create a scale that shows proportion and relates the images of detonations to geography.

2. Create more complex and transforming soundscapes.

3. Connect sounds to each detonation that convey their yield or detonation type, or some other attribute.

4. Explore CSS animations to convey yield of detonation.

5. Create more drawings and expressive scans to incorporate as hover captions to detonation images.

6. Create captions that load dynamically for the lightbox images.

7. Animate vector drawings to convey impact and yield of detonation.

8. Create a toggle option to view the project organized by time continuum or by location (currently it is a combination: the atmospheric tests are organized by time and the underground tests by location).

9. Create a text list of every detonation as a way to emphasize the naming of tests and to help viewers locate detonations in the tiling.

10. Create search function so that a viewer’s entry point could be a date, or a name, or an Area of the valley. Currently one travels from most northern part of the valley and heads South.

11. Create a system for showing how the viewer is navigating North, South, East, West.

12. Incorporate other archival research:

USGS photographs of detonation sites (before and after)
images of atmospheric tests from the National Archives
images of mannequins being dressed and set in houses
images of mannequins from the JC Penney advertisement (before and after)
images newspaper articles on the mannequins and other tests
images of houses, cars, furniture, food items, roof tiles, paint samples, animals tested
transcript (or recordings): for example of Baneberry trial
images of protests
images of ephemera and printed material
transcripts of oral histories
notes from two Nevada Test Site tours

13. Create a participatory interface in which viewers can submit their own interpretations or repsonses to form a layer on the site.

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Part Two, as you may remember from earlier introductory posts, is to extend the website into an exhibition. I am hoping to have more time soon to design a proposal and to research ways to translate interactivity for the web into an interactive physical environment.

My presentation at the ‘Remaking Research’ symposium.

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The Emily Carr University of Art and Design has archived the ‘Remaking Research’ symposium online. Here is the link to video documentation of presentations made in ‘Featured Research Projects’ under the theme ‘The Political Economies of Research’ on Friday, November 2, 2012. My presentation is third.

More stills from my presentation. My map of Yucca Flat in detail:
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I love to talk about the research, the data I gathered, and the role my Excel sheet plays in the programming and design. I always show images of it.
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Drawing is often a way to get to know something, and it lives on in my web-based project:
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My vision for the Web: spatial, simultaneous, exploratory.
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Here you can view the opening presentations to ‘Remaking Research.’

The subject of my archival research, appreciating Las Vegas.

There are three main threads to my archival research. I am searching for:
(1) any images or textual accounts of the L.A. Darling Co. Mannequins, information on their public display at the downtown J.C. Penney store in Las Vegas and the tour they allegedly made of other cities, confirmation that they were displayed both before and after the March 17, 1953 ‘Annie’ Test, and any leads to their current whereabouts;

(2) newspaper accounts of nuclear testing at Yucca Flat of the Nevada Test Site, any form of visual or textual documentation that provides a supplementary view to that of the Department of Energy, as well as images and films of atmospheric and underground testing activity, subsidence craters, cables, towers, vehicles, structures, and other ruins of testing experiments; and

(3) an analysis of the effects of nuclear testing on people, environment, politics and culture, documentation and records on (for example) the Baneberry venting case, protests at the NTS, and designed exhibits and publications.

Over the course of this project, I have searched the microfilm, manuscript, photo, film, map, book, and military collections of the Library of Congress, the Mercury Core Library and Data Center, the USGS Central Region Library, and the National Archives. This past December in Las Vegas, I spent several days in the archives and libraries of the Cahlan Research Library of the Nevada State Museum, the University of Nevada Las Vegas Special Collections, and the Nuclear Testing Archive. As a result of these hours spent, combing through personal collections, publications, ephemera, newspaper clippings, microfilm, photos, and film reels, I have hundreds of images and notes to add to my findings. This material will give further dimension to the project. In the next several weeks I will be working to interpret these discoveries and incorporate them into the archive and into my exhibition proposal.

I want to thank the people I met in Las Vegas who helped me with my research:
Crystal R. Van Dee, Curator of Manuscripts at the Cahlan Research Library
Karen Green, Curator at the National Atomic Testing Museum
Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator, Historian at the Las Vegas News Bureau Archive
Dan Garrison, Producer at Joshua Tree Productions Inc.
Jennifer Cornthwaite, Director of the Emergency Arts Center
Su Kim Chung, Manuscripts Librarian at UNLV Special Collections
Kelli Luchs, Photograph Archivist at UNLV Special Collections
Delores Brownlee, Library Technician at UNLV Special Collections
Thomas Sommer, University and Technical Services Archivist at UNLV Special Collections and
Dennis McBride, Director of the Nevada State Museum.

Thanks to James Eure for his assistance.

A page out of a scrapbook of clippings regarding Civil Defense, Patricia Lee Collection, Cahlan Research Library.
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An Introduction to The Evolution of Silence.

An exploration of memory and destruction, ‘The Evolution of Silence’ is a multi-dimensional project that encompasses drawing, interactive design, mapping, printmaking, and installation. It is a creative investigation into the dramatic transformation of the Yucca Flat valley of the Nevada Test Site (Nevada National Security Site)—the site of experimental, post-World War II nuclear detonations.

I am creating a web-based archive, installation, and publication that present an exploration of a restricted landscape, and a visual mapping and interpretation of its destruction. ‘The Evolution of Silence’ allows one to bypass government boundaries and control of the area, making it possible for any individual to experience a cold war’s aftermath and silence.

The project gives form and expression to the data that I have gathered and organized, and is unique to other existing documentation of the Nevada Test Site in that it preserves an individual view of every nuclear detonation that occurred in Yucca Flat valley (828 nuclear explosions in total). The valley’s pockmarked surface of sink-hole craters is simultaneously beautiful and horrific. Considering the toll on the environment and the cost to human life, the valley is an important symbol of the impact of war.

I have been working on ‘The Evolution of Silence’ for a few years. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte funded my initial field research in 2008 (thank you), and since then, I have been working to design and develop an experience of a place of conflict for others. Thanks to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I have a sabbatical for the Fall 2012 semester and am going to be finishing Part 1 of the project: a web-based archive that presents multiple perspectives and experiences of the destruction. Part 2 will take place in 2013, as I prepare for the project’s extension and arrange for its public exhibition.